Purple (D Line) Extension pays homage to the designs of Master Architect Paul R. Williams 

With Black History month now underway, we wanted to focus on Paul Revere Williams (Feb. 18, 1894 – Jan. 23, 1980), a leading practitioner of mid-century modern design in Southern California and the first Black architect to become a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in 1923.

Metro’s Purple (D Line) Extension has a unique connection to one of William’s last commissioned works: the Linde Medical Center located at the northeast corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Gayley Avenue. The Linde Medical Center, now referred to as the Westwood Medical Plaza, will be a future entrance for the Purple (D Line) Extension’s Westwood/UCLA Station. 

Paul R. Williams.

While the 12-story Linde Medical Center has undergone many changes since it was built in 1962, the building has retained some key historic elements of William’s original design. They include the original pipe column balustrade at the roof and portions of the original handrails. 

Metro’s senior environmental team has consulted with California’s State Historic Preservation Office and other agencies on efforts to avoid and minimize adverse effects to the Linde Medical Center’s historic features. Although decisions regarding the Purple (D Line) Extension’s Westwood/UCLA station’s final design are pending, project plans include retaining at least some of the Linde Medical Center’s original character-defining features. The features that could be retained are the structure’s overall box-like form, the canted balustrade and the black granite base.

Interesting fact: William’s original design for the Linde Medical Center does not include windows on the west side of building, so there aren’t any. The L.A. Conservancy notes that Williams original design for the Linde Medical Center intentionally did not include windows on the west side of the building because Williams believed visitors to the medical center wouldn’t want to see the neighboring national cemetery.

William’s legacy is strong — especially in our region, where he mostly practiced. In 1957 Williams was inducted as the AIA’s first Black fellow, and he was posthumously awarded AIA’s 2017 Gold Medal. The AIA’s Gold Medal recognizes individuals whose work has had a lasting influence on the theory and practice of architecture. Williams retired from practice in 1973 and died in 1980 at the age of 85. Metro is very proud to share Williams’ legacy and to help preserve his contributions to local architecture.

8 replies

  1. Does Metro sell or lease air rights for building above station entrances?

    • Hi Richard,

      There have been some joint developments between developers and Metro at some rail stations — typically stations with a large enough footprint to accommodate a new building. More about the joint development program here: https://www.metro.net/projects/joint_dev_pgm/

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  2. Hello Steve: As an African American Architect, I was honored to have the opportunity to be part of the design team to develop the concept of the adaptive reuse of this Paul Williams structure. Our Team also encouraged Metro to integrate Paul Williams’ story into the station artwork. We are excited to see this structure come back to life reflecting Paul Williams’ original design details and look forward to the completion of this historic project.

    Roland A. Wiley, AIA
    Chief Architect

    • Hi Roland;

      Thanks for your work on the project and for commenting! Completely agree with you and it’s great to see Mr. Williams’ legacy recognized and to see an important piece of Los Angeles’ past become a part of its future.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  3. Paul R. Williams was a magnificently fabulous designer with unmatched class, chicness, sophistication and flair.

  4. So, it appears that one portal is going to where the Chase Bank is currently at Wilshire and Westwood. Will there still be an entrance at the vacant lot on Gayley? Also, at one point there was discussion of a portal on the south side of Wilshire. What’s the final plan?

    The past month, construction has kicked into full gear with site clearing for the VA station. Any updates on that?

    • Hi LA Steve;

      Yes, we will have an entrance at Wilshire and Gayley and one on the south side of Wilshire and Westwood. Portal entrance renderings found here on slides 88-91: https://media.metro.net/2020/community-webinar-ple-2020-1111.pdf

      As for the VA station, we are still working on “clearing” the parking lot 42 site on the VA Hospital Campus to create a construction staging yard.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source